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GM Crop Acreage Continues To Grow Despite Strengthening Anti-GMO Movement
(Beyond Pesticides, September 7, 2004)
Throughout the world, farmers' use of genetically modified (GM) crops continues to grow steadily. The Farm and Ranch Guide reported that at the World Sugar Farmers' Conference, Monsato's Molly Cline, PhD presented figures showing that over the past seven years, biotech crop acreage increased by double-digit percentages each year. In 2003, biotech acreages totaled over 167 million acres, over 15% over 2002. These numbers represent seven million farmers in 18 different countries.

The majority of these acres came from soybeans, which accounted for 55 percent. Next was cotton, with 21 percent, canola at 16 percent, and corn 11 percent. USDA and Monsanto data indicated 81 percent of all soybeans planted in 2003 were GM varieties, along with 73 percent of all cotton acres and 40 percent of the total corn acres.
These huge rises come despite the fact that the growing popularity of the organic industry and the strengthening movement against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), both worldwide and here in the U.S. A number of California counties have recently decided to put a measure banning genetically modified crops on the county's November 2 ballot. (See Daily News 7/15/04) Across Europe, consumers are extremely wary about genetic engineering, and there is virtually no market for GM foods (See Daily News 5/20/04).

Biotech industry representatives have long maintained that genetically modified organisms can increase crop production, improve yields and lower pesticide use - and thus are beneficial to farmers, the agricultural economy and the world's hungry. But a report published last year actually showed that the planting of 550 million acres of genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybeans and cotton in the United States since 1996 has increased pesticide use by about 50 million pounds.

Additionally, recent studies have found that organic food is not only safe but also a healthier alternative to conventional agriculture, which contains high residues of pesticides. A University of California at Davis study published in the February 26, 2003 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found greater nutritional attributes in organically grown food compared with produce grown conventionally (see Daily News 3/13/03).

TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from genetically engineered ingredients and crops by buying USDA certified organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GM food. Support local efforts to prohibit growing GM crops. Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative, U.S.EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt, and USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Genetic Engineering Page.